Practice Relating to the Prohibition of Certain Types of Landmines
Colombia’s Basic Military Manual (1995) states that the use of weapons which “cause unnecessary and indiscriminate, extensive, lasting and serious damage to people and the environment” is prohibited. It adds: “The use as well as the production, possession and importation of cruel means of war such as anti-personnel mines is banned.”
Colombia’s Penal Code (2000), as amended in 2002, states:
Any person who uses, produces, commercializes, retains and stockpiles, directly or indirectly, anti-personnel mines or vectors specifically designed for launching or dispersing anti-personnel mines, shall be punished with ten (10) to fifteen (15) years’ imprisonment, a fine between five hundred (500) and a thousand (1,000) minimum monthly salaries, and a five to ten year ban from holding public office.
Colombia’s Law Implementing the Ottawa Convention (2002) states:
In accordance with the Ottawa Convention, the State of Colombia pledges to destroy or ensure the destruction of all anti-personnel mines within the period set forth by Articles 4 and 5 of this Convention.
Notwithstanding the aforesaid and as an exception to Article 2 of the present law [which adds a provision to the Penal Code that penalizes the use, production, commercialization and stockpiling of anti-personnel mines], the Ministry of National Defence is authorized to:
Retain the anti-personnel mines which it may have stockpiled and which it may have been using on the first of March 2001 for the protection of military bases and of the energy and communication infrastructure. These anti-personnel mines must be properly marked and the protection of the civilian population must be guaranteed within the time period set forth by the “Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction”.
Transfer the anti-personnel mines in accordance with the destruction plan and for this purpose only.
Retain, stockpile and transfer a number of anti-personnel mines for the development of mine detection, mine clearance, or mine destruction techniques and for training in these techniques. This number of anti-personnel mines must not exceed a thousand (1,000) mines.
In 1995, in a ruling on the constitutionality of the 1977 Additional Protocol II, Colombia’s Constitutional Court stated in relation to the prohibition on the use of weapons of a nature to cause unnecessary suffering or superfluous injury:
Although none of the treaty rules expressly applicable to internal conflicts prohibits indiscriminate attacks or the use of certain weapons, the Taormina Declaration consequently considers that the bans (established partly by customary law and partly by treaty law) on the use of … mines … apply to non-international armed conflicts, not only because they form part of customary international law but also because they evidently derive from the general rule prohibiting attacks against the civilian population.
In 2007, in the Constitutional Case No. C-291/07, the Plenary Chamber of Colombia’s Constitutional Court stated:
Weapons which because of their indiscriminate effects on the civilian population … [are prohibited] include anti-personnel mines … which have also been prohibited by specific treaty and customary norms that are applicable in internal armed conflicts and designed to limit their indiscriminate effects.
[footnote in original omitted]
In 1995, during a debate in the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, Colombia reiterated its “support for the initiative of an international moratorium on the production and transfer of anti-personnel land-mines, with a view to their complete elimination”.
Colombia participated in all of the preparatory meetings for the adoption of a treaty banning anti-personnel landmines, endorsed the Final Declaration of the Brussels Conference on Anti-personnel Landmines in June 1997 and took part in the Oslo negotiations in September 1997 which led to the adoption of a treaty banning anti-personnel landmines. It also voted in favour of the UN General Assembly resolutions in support of a ban on anti-personnel landmines in 1996, 1997 and 1998, as well as the relevant OAS resolutions.